Other Uses for Annuals
Don't limit the beauty of annuals to just your garden bed. Cuttings and dried and pressed flowers are an excellent way to enjoy flowers all year long, inside and out. Use the tips that follow to help you.
If you'd like to have containers full of flowers brightening your home, a perfect source is a cutting garden filled with annuals. Most gardeners are unwilling to cut many blooms from their regular flower beds because they want as full and colorful a display as possible. Therefore, a garden specially set aside to supply flowers for cutting is a good solution. This can be a separate flower bed, or you can devote a row or two of your vegetable patch to a flower crop.
Most seed companies offer packets of "Cutting Flower Mix" that contain a variety of flowering annuals. The mixture varies, but it will always include seeds that are easy to grow and produce nice, bouquet-type flowers.
Mixes usually include some, but not all, of the following plants: marigolds, zinnias, plumed cockscomb, baby's breath, bachelor's buttons, pot marigolds, cosmos, asters, blanket flowers, and seedling dahlias.
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A cutting garden full of daisies, chrysanthemums, and marguerite
can bring annual color into a home.
The major disadvantage to buying such a mix is that you don't know in advance what colors the flowers will be. If you want to key the flower colors to the colors in your home or if you only want specific kinds of cut flowers, then you'll need to purchase those varieties separately.
When cutting for indoor use, select flowers that are in bud or in early stages of bloom. Those in later stages of bloom should be cut from the plant and discarded. If they're left, plant strength will be wasted on the formation of seeds.
To obtain the longest period of enjoyment possible from cut flowers, pick them in the early morning. Use a sharp knife and make a slanted cut. Cut just above the point where another flower bud or a side shoot is beginning to grow. This way,
plant energy will quickly shift to production of additional blooms.
As you cut, place the flowers in a container of water and bring them indoors promptly. Remove the leaves from the lower portion of each stem, immediately putting the flowers back
into a tall container of fresh water. You can either arrange bouquets right away or keep cut flowers in a cool location to arrange later.
Each time you recut a stem, always use a sharp knife and
cut on a slant. This keeps all available stem cells open to the transfer of water up into the cut flower. Scissors and shears can pinch some of these water channels closed.
Also, remember to remove all leaves that will be under water once the flower is in a container. If left on, they'll rot, which not only causes a terrible odor but also shortens flower life by clogging stem cells needed for water transfer.